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University of Stirling set for epic mission to the Moon – on foot!

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Walk to the Moon launch (L-R): Professor Maggie Cusack (Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences); Joe FitzPatrick (Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing); Cathy Gallagher (Executive Director of Sport); and Professor Malcolm MacLeod (Senior Deputy Principal).

A Scottish Government minister today joined staff and students at the University of Stirling to launch its ‘Walk to the Moon’ mission – a collective effort to cover almost 240,000 miles in just 150 days.

While it was just one small step for Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, the astronomical occasion celebrated the beginning of a very special challenge, organised to mark 50 years since the first Moon landing on July 20, 1969.

The University community will attempt to clock-up 238,855 miles – the distance between Earth and the Moon – over the next five months, aiming to eclipse the target before the landmark anniversary.

The ambitious challenge is the brainchild of Professor Maggie Cusack, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and Cathy Gallagher, Executive Director of Sport.

Professor Cusack said: “The landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon in July 1969 was a momentous occasion – and one which, today, arguably remains humanity’s greatest-ever feat of exploration. Fifty years on, the world’s space agencies continue to push the boundaries in an attempt to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the Universe – and we are proud that Stirling scientists are among the teams working on some of the latest major international missions.

“We wanted to mark this special anniversary with a unique event that would not only pay tribute to the success of the Apollo 11 mission, but also involve all of our staff and students. There’s no better way to celebrate than taking our own giant leap and walking all the way to the Moon.”

Walk to the Moon

University of Stirling staff and students are going to attempt to walk 238,855 miles in just 150 days.

Staff and students gathered outside the University’s Cottrell Building to count down to the launch of the challenge, before Mr FitzPatrick cut the ribbon and sent the first walkers on their way.

The Minister said: “I am delighted to join staff, students and members of the wider university community to launch their ‘Walk to the Moon’. The Scottish Government welcomes all initiatives to improve the health of the nation by increasing levels of physical activity and we support work that champions everyday walking as the way to a happier, healthier Scotland.”

Staff and students will record their mileage using a smartphone app that will deduct each individual’s contribution from the overall total – which equates to around 478 million steps.

More than 25 ‘Moon Champions’ have been appointed to encourage and sign-up walkers across the University’s faculties, professional service areas and student population – with the aim of boosting activity levels and, consequently, the health and wellbeing of both staff and students.

Ms Gallagher said: “Stirling is proud to be Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence; therefore, it seems appropriate that we celebrate this historic event with our own almighty challenge designed to encourage staff and students to get active.

“We already live and breathe sport here at the University of Stirling; however, we know that we can all do more as a nation to increase our physical activity and, ultimately, reap the health benefits that come along with a more active, less sedentary, lifestyle.

“At the moment, it may feel as if we’re light years away from reaching our target – but by encapsulating the University’s ethos to ‘be the difference’, the boundless energy of our staff and students, and the inspirational story of the first Moon landing, I know that we will be planting our own flag in triumph in the very near future.”

Read more about the University's Walk to the Moon mission - and find out how to get involved.

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